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Whitworth University Alumna Receives U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship

May 23, 2019
Hannah Beard ’19, a Whitworth alumna who majored in theology, has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Swahili in Tanzania during the summer of 2019.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

Beard is one of approximately 550 competitively selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received a CLS award in 2019.

CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

“I am very excited to return to Tanzania so that I can hopefully become close to fluent in this language by the end of the summer,” said Beard.  “I just interned this semester at World Relief where I helped some Swahili-speaking clients and even was able to interpret a few times in the office. I have a passion for working with refugees and immigrants and would love to become fluent in Swahili so that I can help refugees resettling here from East Africa."

Recipients of the 2019 CLS awards include students from over 230 institutions of higher education across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions, military academies, and community colleges. Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 6,200 American students to learn critical languages around the world.

For further information about the Critical Language Scholarship or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please contact and visit our websites at and

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

ECA Press